Due to the popularity of its original holiday movies, Hallmark Channel was the most-watched entertainment cable network during the fourth quarter of 2022, per Forbes. It’s on track to experience the same kind of success with 42 new movies this year starring its stable of popular actors, from Lacey Chabert to Jonathan Bennett.
Multiple “American Idol” alums including Lauren Alaina and Jordin Sparks have appeared in movies on the network in past years. On November 17, 2023, season 18 finalist Grace Leer, now a rising country star in Nashville, will become the latest alum to co-star in a Hallmark Christmas movie.
Here’s what you need to know:
Grace Leer Will Make Her Acting Debut in New Hallmark Christmas Movie Produced by Blake Shelton
Two days after her 32nd birthday, Leer will make her acting debut in “Time for Her to Come Home for Christmas,” premiering November 30 on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. She can be seen in the trailer as a star member of the church choir named Riley.
Starring Shenae Grimes-Beech and “Grey’s Anatomy” regular Chris Carmack, the new movie is the sixth in a series of Hallmark movies inspired by country star Blake Shelton‘s 2012 song “Time For Me to Come Home,” according to NBC. After his mom wrote a book based on the song, Hallmark and Shelton teamed up to produce the first movie in 2018 and he continues to executive produce each subsequent film.
Hallmark rarely announces upcoming movies until months after they’ve wrapped filming, so Leer had to keep her involvement under wraps when she flew in June to Vancouver, British Columbia, for her three-week shoot. But on November 10, she shared an Instagram reel featuring a montage of videos she took as she learned she got the part and headed to Canada for filming.
Leer wrote, “I can finally announce one of the most exciting things I got to do this year…ACT IN MY FIRST EVER MOVIE!!”
In another post on November 13, Leer shared a trailer for the movie and wrote that being part of the movie was “such a dream.”
Leer won’t be the first “American Idol” alum to star in a Hallmark movie, though. Country star Lauren Alaina, runner-up in 2011, co-starred with popular Hallmark actor Tyler Hynes in 2021’s “Roadhouse Romance.” In 2018 and 2019, Kellie Pickler, a finalist on the fifth season of “Idol,” co-starred with Wes Brown in two “Christmas at Graceland” movies as well as the holiday movie “The Mistletoe Secret.” And Jordin Sparks, winner of the sixth season of “Idol,” starred in 2021’s “A Christmas Treasure.”
HunterGirl, Who Loves Hallmark Christmas Movies, Was Thrilled to Hear Her Song in One
In addition to Leer co-starring in one of Hallmark’s new movies, several other “Idol” alums are lending their voices to other titles this season. Rising country star and season 20 runner-up HunterGirl, whose single “Ain’t About You” is currently climbing the charts, has two new Christmas songs featured in separate movies.
HunterGirl’s upbeat tune “Hurry Up Christmas” is featured in the new movie “Christmas Island,” which premiered on November 12 and will re-air multiple times throughout the season. Meanwhile, her song “Christmas Again,” can be heard during “Haul Out the Holly: All Lit Up,” which premieres on November 25 starring an ensemble cast including Chabert.
“When I found out that two songs I wrote were going to be featured in the Hallmark Channel’s Christmas movies, I was so excited for my whole family, especially my Nana,” she said in a statement from her record label, BBR Music. “I’ve been watching Hallmark Christmas movies with my family since I was a little girl, so hearing my song, ‘Hurry Up Christmas,’ in ‘Christmas Island’ over the weekend was a moment I will never forget.”
Meanwhile, singer and actress McPhee, who was runner-up on the fifth season of “Idol,” can also be heard during Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas programming. Her version of “Jingle Bell Rock,” performed with her husband, iconic music producer David Foster, will be featured during “Catch Me If You Claus,” which premieres on November 23.
To celebrate, the couple performed at Hallmark’s Tree Lighting ceremony at The Grove in Los Angeles on November 13, where they told Extra that they’re also appearing at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Other music stars who’ve provided songs to be featured in this year’s Hallmark movies and promos include Taylor Swift, Cher, Norah Jones, and Ingrid Michaelson.